Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide/suicidal thoughts
Six years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. I have been taking medication for my mental illnesses since then. Recently, I decided I would like to experiment with stopping my medications. I’m nearing the point where I will be living on my own as an adult, and I would like to have a firm grasp on my mental health without other substances helping me before that point. Over a course of seven weeks, I reduced the amount I was taking from full doses of two different prescribed medications to absolutely nothing. This was my experience:
Disclaimer: I consulted both my psychologist and psychiatrist before doing this and I got a tapering schedule to be able to go off my medication in a smart, gradual way. Also, this is NOT an anti-medication article. Medications for mental illnesses have helped me and countless others a great deal, and I acknowledge and appreciate that.
Week 1: I don’t feel much different, which isn’t surprising since my psychologist told me that as I’m tapering off the medication, the levels of the chemicals in my body will slowly decrease. I’ve been taking medications for 6 years, so it’ll take a bit before those levels go down.
Week 2: I personally haven’t noticed much difference in the way I’m feeling, but my mom has. She has said I’m much more monotone and unresponsive. She has been getting angry at me for not keeping conversation with her. I honestly don’t see the point in all these conversations. She’ll say something about the weather and I just don’t feel as if it requires a response. She didn’t ask me a question, so why does it matter whether I answer or not?
Week 3: I haven’t noticed much change this week. My mom has been getting irritated with my moods lately, but I still feel no different. She’s told my psychologist that I should be put back on my medicines, which really hurt me. I feel as if she wants me on my medication because she likes that version of me better, and it doesn’t matter to her that that Sam has chemicals working in her brain to help her be perky.
My article got rejected today, and I didn’t take it very well. I immediately started doubting myself as a writer, and it ruined my whole day. I later found out that it was because my piece wasn’t in the correct writing format, and I feel as if I overreacted in a major way.
Week 4: I just realized today that I went a week and a half with no contact with my best friend, without even blinking an eye. I didn’t feel the need to talk to anyone. I know it should alarm me, but it doesn’t.
At work today, I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. I didn’t work very fast, and I messed up frequently because I couldn’t focus on one thing. I went home and took a nap. I felt better after I woke up, but it was still shocking to me how I couldn’t bring myself to care about my job today.
Week 5: School started this week and I’ve realized quite quickly that I don’t feel a need for people. I’ve been isolating myself from almost everyone around me. I know I should be concerned about this, yet I just don’t feel as if friends are essential for me.
The first week of school is done, and I feel even more confident. I thought that school would really show me whether or not I could handle being off my medication, and while I have been struggling, I have been using many coping mechanisms. I feel as if I have a firm grasp on my mind.
Week 6: I had an anxiety attack last night that started over me not being able to find my debit card. After many deep breaths, a shower, and listening to music, I was able to pull myself out of it, and I’m so incredibly proud of myself. I was doubting my ability to do this, but I’m feeling confident.
I almost cried in class today for accidentally playing a song on the school news that contained a cuss word. I quietly left the class with tears in my eyes and after about 3 minutes of deep breaths, I realized that it was a two second slip up. I’m allowed to make mistakes. My grade for the day might suffer, but everything is going to be okay.
Week 7: It’s only been three days into the week and already I’ve been sick, behind in school, and had multiple verbal conflicts with my family. I feel like a mess. I’m doubting this whole ordeal because I had thoughts last night that I haven’t had since I was suicidal three years ago. I’m not sure if I can keep doing this. I want to be able to be happy on my own, but I just feel so helpless.
My mom told me this week that she wants me back on my medication immediately, but I’ve been fighting back on that. I feel as if I’m making progress by pulling myself out of anxiety attacks and forcing myself to get out of bed each morning. I’m not sure if I’m going to be put back on medicine or not, but I will definitely be making sure that my voice is heard in the decision of whether or not medication will be put into my body.
In conclusion, dealing with the chemical imbalances in my brain is hard. Some days are okay, while others feel like the end of the world. My doctor told me that exercising daily will give me more endorphins to help with my moods, so I’ve been doing that. I’m still struggling sometimes, but I think it’s worth it because in the end I’m teaching my brain how to cope with the mental illnesses it possesses.